Here is something that should never, ever happen. Roy Halladay pitched a three-run, complete game against the Braves today and took a loss. With the rate at which Halladay and other Phillies pitchers, like Cliff Lee, are being hung out to dry by this offense, it may be time to take more drastic measures.
The Phillies were the only team in the majors to not have a starting pitcher lose two games in a row. That streak ended today as Halladay got his second consecutive taste of how bad this Phillies offense sucks right now.
Just because it is Superman himself, Roy Halladay, on the mound, does not mean that he will toss a shut-out every time out. The movie Superman managed to turn back time by rotating the earth backwards on its axis, but do not think he will accomplish this feat whenever he feels like it, even in the movies. There needs to be some basis in reality to keep our attention.
The Phillies batters, however, seem to be hanging around, just waiting for another Halladay or Lee miracle. Tim Hudson pitched for the Braves today and was almost pulled from the game in the fourth inning with a sore hip, but he managed to go seven innings anyway. This means that the Phillies managed only four hits off a Grandpa (in baseball years) with a bad hip!
The only reason that Grandpa lasted seven innings was because the Phillies got themselves out. They swung at bad pitches and were not patient when Hudson began flinging balls all over the place, two feet over their heads or straight into the dirt.
Three of the four hits in the game were from the bench players, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and John Mayberry Jr. who accounted for the only score with a two-run homer. Mayberry played center in place of the ailing Shane Victorino. Both he and Orr each stole a base as well.
So while the bench guys keep trying to resuscitate this team, where are the starters? Where are the bats of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez? Come out, come out, wherever you are! This game of hide and seek is getting old.
The 3-2 loss gave the Braves the series win, 2-1. The Braves are now only 3.5 games behind the Phillies in the NL East and the Marlins are two games back.
The Phillies will travel to St. Louis for a short, two-games series next. Cliff Lee pitches tomorrow, unless he decides to go on strike. Game time is 7:05pm.
As of May 13, 2011, the Phillies are 25-13 and two games ahead of the Florida Marlins for first place in the NL East. However, Phillies players are dropping like flies. Can they maintain this pace in spite of all the injuries?
So far the Phillies have lost their starting short stop, both catchers, two starting pitchers, a bunch of relief pitchers and more. Starter Joe Blanton came off the DL but looks like he needs to go back as he is still in pain and losing speed on his pitches. Starter Roy Oswalt is coming back this week, but also looks like he is not 100% after a rehab start on Thursday.
Then in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Braves, centerfielder Shane Victorino left the game early with a hamstring pull. It ended his 15-game hitting streak.
The Phillies anemic offense managed only three hits in the game, a trend which has continued throughout the season so far. The pitching has helped the Phillies win games, but the loses due to a lack of hitting are starting to pile up.
At the same time, the pitcher’s are now coming up lame. If the injuries continue and the Phillies wind up with both weak pitching and weak hitting at the same time, this spells trouble.
Here is a look at the injuries so far this year:
If Victorino winds up on the DL, the Phillies may have been able to fill the roster spot by calling Domonic Brown back up since he has recovered from hand surgery. However, earlier in the week, Brown sprained the thumb on the same hand he had surgery on and is unavailable to play right now.
Currently in right field, Ben Francisco has been terrible in the month of May. He is hitting just .071 since May 1. Ryan Howard is hitting .217 in May. Placido Polanco’s May numbers are down as well, hitting .234. Brian Schneider’s bat was starting to heat up when he got hurt and was sent to the DL. Carlos Ruiz is back, but rusty, and he is still looking for his first hit this month.
The bench players have filled in admirably where they are able to. But if this trend continues where the offense slumps and the pitching can no longer bail them out, the Phillies could lose their grasp on first place quickly.
The Phillies season is at a crossroads now. Either they will be able to continue to battle through the injuries or they will not.
But this is an issue they have dealt with for many years running now. This Phillies team knows how to carry on when star players hit the skids. Hopefully, knowing that they have overcome injuries in the past will be enough to propel them into the future as a winning team.
Friday the 13th turned out to be a reversal of fortune for the Phillies, on a day that is traditionally known for bad luck. It was also a day where some very young, unproven pitchers were tossed into the fire and emerged unscathed.
Cole Hamels was to start the game, but before he took the mound, Ryan Howard blasted a three-run homer to give him a nice lead to work with. And although Hamels gave a run back to the Braves in the first inning, it looked like he was on cruise control after that, at least until the fifth inning.
A single and two straight doubles by the Braves in the fifth tied the game at 3-3. In the sixth, Hamels uncorked a wild pitch with a runner on third to give the Braves a 4-3 lead. After six innings, Hamels had allowed four runs on eight hits while both Hamels and Placido Polanco committed errors in the game.
It was starting to look like a real Friday the 13th nightmare until Shane Victorino hit an RBI-single in the seventh to tie the game again. But as quickly as things began to look up, they went downhill again fast.
Relief pitcher J.C. Romero started the bottom of the seventh and got into big trouble quickly. Martin Prado doubled; it seemed like he could not fail to get on base after doing so four straight times in this game. After a sac bunt that moved Prado to third, Romero walked the next two batters to load the bases.
With one out and the bases juiced, the rookie Michael Stutes took over, looking like fresh meat tossed into a pack of wolves. Stutes was not rattled and he struck out Dan Uggla, making it look easy. Antonio Bastardo was up next and before you could blink, the count was a scary 3-0. But the young lefty refocused and came back to strike out a very frustrated Freddie Freeman, who began slamming equipment to the ground.
The Phillies were able to retake the lead in the eighth after Howard doubled and Raul Ibanez singled to score him. With a very slim 5-4 lead, another rookie would be called upon to hold the Braves down. Vance Worley took the mound and on one pitch, gave up a single. Still not shaken, Worley got the next three outs, including Prado, who failed to reach base for the first time all night.
Ryan Madson closed out the game and is now 6-for-6 in save attempts. But the best news of the night was seeing a very young group of bullpen pitchers pass the biggest test of their budding careers. Stutes, Bastardo and Worley were outstanding and there can be no question now that they all have what it takes to pitch in the majors.
Game two with the Braves is at 1:10pm Saturday and Joe Blanton will pitch.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
As the lack of run support curse for Cliff Lee and other pitchers continues, the Phillies are somehow still winning games. Wednesday night, the beat the Marlins by a score of 5-3 and lee wound up with a no-decision.
Through six innings, Lee allowed three runs, although a few of those may have been due to defense and field positioning. At the plate, Lee smacked a single that should have scored Brian Schneider. But as he rounded third base, Schneider grabbed his leg and limped back to third base.
Adding to already long list of Phillies injuries, Schneider was lifted from the game and may end up on the DL. The good news is that Carlos Ruiz should be coming off the DL and the two can swap places on Friday before the Braves series.
The Phillies were down 3-0 going into the seventh inning. But a the Phillies bench came to the rescue just in time. Pete Orr was the star, hitting two doubles, one in the seventh and one in the ninth. A home run by Shane Victorino tied the game in the eighth and also extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
As Jimmy Rollins stepped to the plate in the ninth with two outs and two men in scoring position, I held my breath. Rollins had come to the plate three times with two outs in this game already and made the last out each time, leaving men stranded on base all three times as well.
In this case, the fourth time was the charm. J-Roll singled, which scored two runs and gave the Phillies the 5-3 lead. Ryan Madson closed the game out and is now 5-for-5 in save opportunities.
The Phillies are off on Thursday as they travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves Friday night at 7:35pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels probably looked and Roy Halladay after Tuesday night’s unwarranted loss to the Marlins and thought, “Welcome to the club.” What club is that? The one where they each pitch a great game and come out with a loss due to a lack of offense.
Halladay outpitched his opponent, Josh Johnson, going eight innings with only one earned run allowed on five hits and still lost the game. Halladay did make one mistake; he walked a pitcher for the first time in his career. That walk turned into a run for the Fish.
But the Phillies offense had the bases loaded twice, in both the second and third innings, and did not score. The worst offender was Dane Sardinha who had bases loaded with no outs in the second. Knowing the pitcher was on deck, he could not even make contact. Even a double play would have scored a run. Instead, he struck out.
In the eight, another crucial error gave the Marlins the 2-1 lead that eventually won the game for them. Jimmy Rollins bobbled a ground ball and threw offline to Ryan Howard, pulling him off the bag. A ground out advanced the runner and a single scored it.
This lack of offense is becoming a running theme with the Phillies, which is magnified as a serious issue when you have pitchers going eight innings, allowing one run and still losing the game. That should not happen.
Perhaps the starting pitchers should get together for their first “club” meeting and decide on how to proceed. They cannot really go on strike, but maybe they could take turns smacking each of the starters around while yelling, “Wake up and score me some freaking runs!” Too much? Just a thought ;o)
The Phillies have one more game in Florida tonight at 7:10pm. Cliff Lee is coming off a loss where he struck out 16 batters. Now there is a solid oxymoron for you. Perhaps he should carry a picket sign out to the mound with him…just in case.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Call it a game if you must, but tonight’s Phillies – Marlins match-up looked more like batting practice for both teams. It featured the Phillies worst starter, fresh off a DL stint, in Joe Blanton and the Marlins worst starter, Javier Vazquez. As hitters walked to the plate, they were literally salivating like a pack of ravenous hyenas standing over a fresh kill.
No one was more excited than Ross Gload, who has gotten very little playing time as a bench player this year. With a rare start in right field, Gload finally had an opportunity to do some damage. He took full advantage with two hits and two RBI.
A lot of Phillies had multi-hit games against the struggling Vazquez and some of the Marlins’ bullpen. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and even Raul Ibanez came up with at least two hits in the game, along with Gload.
The pitching was another story. Knowing he had the youngster Vance Worley nipping at his heels, Blanton must have been in a rush to get back to the team after going on the DL. He did not even pitch in a rehab game.
In his race to get healthy, Blanton looked like a guy seriously out of practice. But the defense bailed him out a number of times and he wound up with five innings, three runs allowed, two walks and eight hits.
Worley did wind up pitching in the game, taking over in the sixth. He got though two scoreless innings and then in the eight, allowed a solo homer to Gaby Sanchez. After Worley’s three innings of work, the score was then 6-4, surprisingly low for the number of hacks taken during the game.
The Phillies went on to win by the same score, with Ryan Madson collecting the save. Roy Halladay will pitch Tuesday night. Game time is 7:10pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In two out of three games in this Braves series, the Phillies bats left their pitchers hanging. They did not score at all for Cliff Lee on Friday. On Sunday, they got some hits for Cole Hamels, but only two runs.
The 12 hits from the Phils offense was certainly better than two on Friday. However, the hits were not timely and caused little damage. Here is just one frustrating example. Wilson Valdez smacked a two-out double in the second inning with no one on base. Later in the sixth, with runners at the corners and one out, Valdez hit a weak ground ball for an inning-ending double play, leaving a runner stranded on third.
Hitting without clutch hitting is practically useless, especially in a close game.
And Hamels really could have used some clutch hitting. He went seven innings, striking out nine batters, but allowed three runs on two homers. Still, it was a quality start and one that he should expect to win.
The youngsters in the bullpen did not help the situation either, which is the opposite of what happened in Saturday’s win. Michael Stutes entered the game not having surrendered a run in 6.1 innings this year. But in 1/3 of an inning on Sunday, he walked two batters and allowed a two-run homer.
Stutes looked like he had never even heard of a strike zone. He was that far off, throwing only two strikes to three batters. This was also the first time the Phillies used him in back-to-back games. You can be sure they will not do that again anytime soon.
As for Scott Mathieson, he took over for Stutes and gave up a hit, but exited the inning unscathed. But then to start the ninth, Mathieson began to unravel. After a hit, a sac bunt and two walks on five pitches each, Danys Baez was brought in to bail Mathieson out.
When your savior for the night is Danys Baez, you know you are having a very bad day. Baez has been unreliable at best since last season, but on Sunday night he was able to coax an inning ending double play.
I will say this for Baez; he is always great with the fans and a very nice guy. Last night, he was headed to the clubhouse after warm-ups and an elderly lady next to me over the dugout asked him to sign a ball. Most players are in full-out game concentration mode at this point and do not stop. But Baez smiled, had her toss the ball over the dugout and he signed it for her and even waved to everyone standing there.
So with no ninth inning rally in sight, the Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 5-2 and lost the series 2-1. Heading to Miami tonight, first place in the division is on the line for this series as the Marlins are only two games back now.
Joe Blanton is back on the roster and will pitch tonight at 7:10pm. Carlos Ruiz was put on the DL yesterday, so no one had to be bumped to add Blanton back. The DL move was backdated to 4/28, so Ruiz could return in about five days or so if his back is feeling better.
Also, Sunday was the Phillies annual Mother’s Day celebration where a players has his mother flown in for the weekend at the Phillies’ expense to spend time with their son and see him play. A different player is chosen each year, although there were two in 2010. I have attended these particular games every year since 2006 so here is a photo gallery of all six years with the player, mom and sometimes other family members as well. The only person I cannot remember is who is in the 2006 photo. I think it is Jon Lieber, but I am not sure. If you know, please let me know :O)
And here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography